Toledo has a rich bowling history and tradition, so local bowlers may want to make a trip to Missouri to discover the sport's illustrious past.
For baseball's best, it's Cooperstown. For football's finest, it's Canton. And for bowling's brightest, it's St. Louis.
Although it might not carry the aura of the other sacred shrines, bowling pays tribute to its players and its past in a 50,000-square-foot facility in Missouri. The International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame is a three-story building built to honor one of the world's oldest sports.
The museum and hall of fame opened in 1984. And, as its title suggests, it is a visual display of the sport's past and a shrine to its legends. It also features unlikely tributes to the late cartoonist Charles Schulz and baseball's St. Louis Cardinals.
But bowling is the main attraction, and in particular, the “Great Moments” section is a big draw. The display focuses on 12 “epic events” in bowling history, including Earl Anthony passing the million-dollar mark in career earnings.
Another area of the hall is reminiscent of the baseball and football shrines. Plaques and portraits of hall members are prominently displayed. Members are represented by a sculpted bronze tablet, and all of their major trophies are displayed.
Famous female bowlers are honored in the Women's International Bowling Congress Hall of Fame section. The gallery features paintings of hall members and a list of their accomplishments.
The hall of fame has 11 sections. The PBA, PWBA and ABC all are honored in their own wings. The WIBC has performance and meritorious sections, and successful bowling proprietors also are celebrated in the hall. Even 13 bowling reporters are honored in the World Bowling Writers Hall of Fame.
Toledo legend Junior Powell is featured in the hall of fame in two areas. Earlier this year, Powell was elected into the ABC Hall of Fame in the Meritorious Service category. He also is honored in the ABC Hall of Fame Pioneers section.
Twenty-six hall members are singled out for their accomplishment in the hall's most prestigious category dubbed “Salute to Champions.”
One feature that the bowling hall has that the baseball and football shrines do not is an opportunity to actually participate in the sport, offering state-of-the-art lanes that visitors can use at no extra charge.
The museum portion of the building features life-size exhibits.
“The museum displays the entire panorama of bowling's international history, from ancient Egypt to modern 10 pins,” according to the museum's web site. “From computer databases ... to zany 50's team shirts, the IBMHF holds the entire story of bowling.”
Another favorite attraction in the museum is the full-sized bowling-pin car. The fully functioning vehicle shaped like a bowling pin was built in Mayfield Heights, O., in the 1930s.
The IBMHF also includes a research library that contains over 100,000 photographs, thousands of tapes and videos and a vast collection of books, magazines and newspapers.
The newest exhibit celebrates the 50th anniversary of Charles Schulz's “Peanuts” comic strip. It features 12 original, hand-drawn strips by the late cartoonist, and bowling-related strips also are displayed.
The International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame is located at 111 Stadium Plaza in downtown St. Louis. It is open from October through March from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week. Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for children.
For more information call 1-800-966-BOWL.
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